Research Questions

1. What does color preference reveal about an individual?

2. How does color reasoning reflect the characteristics of an individual?

3. What factor(s) influences or weakens color preference? Why?


Connie Hwang, SJSU Graphic Design Professor
Primary Advisor

Julio Martinez, SJSU Graphic Design Lecturer
Secondary Advisor

Dr. Evan Palmer, SJSU Perception Psychology Professor
Tertiary Advisor


My senior thesis project is to find out how people think of color to reveal who they are. Color preference reveals about people’s characteristics and self-image enough to formulate an image of their personalities. Color choice can be translated into their behaviors and attitudes but most importantly into how they present themselves to others. In my thesis project, I aimed to capture their invisible thoughts and color choices to construct a personal color palette for each of my participants. 

To construct each color palette, I interviewed classmates, family and friends about 12 color preferences. The questions consist of 6 colors they like and 6 colors they dislike. I will then analyze the color palettes and color reasoning to interpret into 3D rendering compositions.

The visual interpretations are defined by the color answers and my personal filter of our interactions and my understanding of their personality. I will use the raw color data as the foundation but will extend it with my own perception and personal interpretation.

The power of color is highly influential and its associations vary depending on the individual. I intend to show how color preference reveals about an individual's personality. I intend to examine how the colors people like/dislike and the reasoning behind those color choices translates to an extension of their behavior and attitude.

Survey Interviews

To get the most accurate color response from each person, I interviewed each person by asking them 12 questions about the colors they like and dislike. To get a precise hue, I printed a color wheel which displayed a wide range of tints and shades of each color. I aimed to pinpoint the specific color each person had in mind, to get a unique color. After they answered a specific color, I asked further about what ass- ociations and moods they had towards that color. I was looking for keywords which I could visualize with each color. It became more effective and accurate when the participants saw the color, instead of thinking of it.

Survey Questions

1. Favorite color
2. Least favorite color
3. Favorite color to wear
4. Least favorite to wear
5. Favorite color for a car
6. Least favorite color for a car
7. Favorite color for your room
8. Least favorite color for your room
9. Favorite color for a backpack
10. Least favorite color for a backpack
11. Favorite color for footwear
12. Least favorite color for footwear

Compile of recorded survey 
responses from color interview

Design Language

I constructed a design language with certain shapes having certain meaning. This allows for a cohesive narrative that connects all the different color palettes. This design language follows the principle similar survey responses being displayed with similar shapes. These shapes are connected to color responses based on other positive or negative associations or moods.

1 Sphere

A sphere is used when the participant chose a color for a positive mood. The shape get its color from the top row of the personal color palette. Since a sphere has no sharp edges or angles, it gives off a harmonious feeling which is best represented  by a positive color.

2 Cone

A cone is displayed for a negative association or mood. This shape represents a color from the bottom row as it is a color disliked. I visualize negative moods with a sharp, uncomfortable feeling so a cone is used to penetrate other shapes. Cones was pointed towards a like color as it would conflict moods.

3 Cylinder Rod

Cylinder rods are used when a disliked color from the bottom row of the color palette is chosen but it is an outlier. Sometimes a disliked color will not be cohesive with the rest or the reasoning is different. This shape is used to penetrate other shapes with an opposing idea or color.

4 Ring

Rings are used when there is an outlier-like color. It imitates the soft, round edges of the sphere since they are both from the top row of the color palette. This shape is used to wrap around similar shapes and connect similar shapes with its wide range.

5 Zigzag Bar

The zigzag bar is used when a participant either likes or dislikes the same color hue 3 or more times. I visualized the strong emotions as a wavy form which pulls attention but follows the same direction. This shape is the least common as it is difficult to choose the same color 3+ times.

6 Hexagonal Ring

This contradictory shape has quality from both liked and disliked shapes. It has the round radius of the ring but sharp edges of the cone. This shape is used when a participant likes and dislikes the same color hue. It’s contradictory that someone has opposing opinions about a color.

Additional information will appear after hover, 
explaining the design decisions

The colors people like and dislike are unique, but the reasons why they like or dislike those colors make the individuals more unique.

Final Delivery

For my final deliverable, I present my project in a website form. The user can hover over renders to reveal additional content about the visual decisions. In addition, most renders will have an animation of the 3D composition. Actual size is 3/4 length of a monitor screen.

Above is an animation which is used in the final display website. When the user hovers on a render, a gray platform will cover most of the composition, revealing only key shapes or interaction. Additionally, text will explain those shapes or interactions and why I designed the visuals the way I did.

To the right, is another animation displaying the render of my classmate Elijah from all angles. This allows to explore the relationship between shapes and how depth adds another layer of engagement.

Animations are used to engage the
viewer and display more angles


Based on each participants’ color palette, I used Fusion 360 to visually interpret their personalities, behaviors, and color  preferences. I constructed a design language where certain shapes have the same meaning. The background color is the participant’s favorite color as it’s the color they feel the most comfortable with. Since I personally know all the participants I interpreted their characteristics to how the shapes interact with each other.

If a person is an outgoing extrovert, their composition is closer in proximity for a more complex feeling. On the contrary, if a person is a calm introvert, their composition is more open  for a relaxed feeling. The bigger a color is emphasized in the 3D composition, the bigger the emphasis was during the survey process. The way the shapes interact with each other is translated from the verbs and responses of the survey.

Research Findings

Through my research findings, I discovered the reasoning behind color preference can mostly translate into an extension of the participant’s behavior and personality. People associate themselves with colors they have a positive or negative reaction to and this impacts their color palettes. The most prominent reasoning for color preference is self-image and portraying a desired perception to others. Color preference can be traced to previous experiences and encounters that influence or weaken opinions. The colors people like and dislike are unique, but the reasons why they like or dislike those colors make the individuals more unique.

The outcome is an artistic statement to show how an individual's color preferences and reasoning behind those preferences reveals about their personality. I want my participants to be viewed and understood through their color palette, contrary to labeling people through their age, gender, or ethnicity. I’m using color preference because it is an idea which most people understand and have an opinion on. Through my thesis project, people would understand how color is more impactful and influential in our everyday lives.

For the display website:

  2020 timeiswhatyoumakeofit